Tuesday, January 18, 2005

As the Elections Go 

Have you noticed that since the elections, stories about President Bush have grown softer? Reporters can read election returns and polls too. There are more stories without charges and more adoring stories (such as the Barbara Walters Special) than Bush had all of last year.

This turn in perception is enough to make an observer cynical about the ways of man, but on the other hand, it shows reporters and editors have accepted that the people have spoken. It's time to get on with governing.

Companies and CEOs go through the same swings of good and bad press, and there is little one can do about it. If a CEO hits a bad quarter or two, naysayers suddenly have major voices in the media. If the CEO turns it around, there is the "wait-and-see" story followed by the "he-did-it" story. All this is as predictable as a sunrise. One would think reporters would step outside of their herd mentality and look impartially, but for the most part, they rely on conventional wisdom and what preferred sources say.

It's hard to break this habit among reporters. Yet, this is one of the major tasks PR practitioners have when a company has a message that isn't getting out. It make take months for a reporter to come around, but one has to keep hammering. This is the value of maintaining good relationships with reporters, even when they bludgeon you.

Bush has a brief period of reconciliation with his critics until the inauguration is over. Then, of course, it will be back to the wars. It must feel good to get a breather of a few weeks.


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